Vincent Descombes on the “critique of the subject”


[Posted by BR]

If Rob Chodat’s book sounds interesting to you, you might also be interested in Vincent Descombes’ writings on the concepts of subjectivity and mind (if you’re not already familiar with them). For instance, in the following classic essay, Descombes uses late Wittgensteinian ideas to reconsider the philosophical “critique of the subject” that consumed the humanities (and literary studies, in particular) for decades (and indeed, to some extent, still does). Below is a free preview of the essay’s first page. You can read the rest of Descombes’ essay by clicking here. (The essay is also available in the collection, Who Comes After the Subject?)

Descombes is especially well known for his critique of cognitivism in the philosophy of mind. Because cognitivist explanations of the human mind have made surprising inroads into literary studies in recent year, literary scholars may find Descombes’ book on cognitivism — The Mind’s Provisions: A Critique of Cognitivism — relevant to their own work, despite the fact that it has nothing to say about literature as such (elsewhere, however, Descombes has written on literature). For those who want to delve deeper into Descombes’ critique of cognitivism, check out this special 2004 issue of Inquiry, which features a symposium on The Mind’s Provisions (with essays by Charles Taylor, Robert Brandom, Richard Rorty, and John Haugeland, followed by a response by Descombes).

2 thoughts on “Vincent Descombes on the “critique of the subject”

  1. Great reference. Just to point out, that some months ago, (May 2014), the book “Institutions of Meaning” was published by Harvard Press. It’s the continuation of “The Mind’s Provisions”.

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